We were anxious about paddling without a guide. But the fine, mostly low-wind conditions, we experienced for our two-day there-and-back trip meant our fears were unfounded.
The highlight of day one was paddling about 900m away from the mainland – it felt like an oceanic voyage – to Adele Island to hear seals barking and watch them lumbering around their rocky colony.
The low point of day one was trying to find the elusive tunnel through Yellow Point. The R & R safety-briefing chap had explained how to find it but, when we failed, we surmised a plot for them to keep it as a secret “Spot X” for their guided clients.
Turned out we just hadn’t looked properly, as later that day, out on the water, we met another helpful R & R guy with more directions.
So on day two, while paddling home, we had a second crack by scouring the rocky walls of Yellow Point’s south-western side.
First we found a large cavern, which was fun to float into, but it was not a tunnel. We probed a few metres further west, nosing into what looked like a tight cavern, only to see the proverbial light at the end. We’d found it!
I was worried about getting stuck, but the usually cautious Kaz was right into it, so into the darkness we drifted. Pushing by hand off the walls, we manoeuvred around a couple of bends towards the exit to pop out into the brilliance of a cloudless January day.
It was such an unusual experience, we had to paddle around the point and do it a second time.
By then, foremost on my mind was Mārahau’s vast expanse of low-tide sand, and the risk of having to drag our boat up it, so, with holy grail ticked off, we cracked on with the paddles to home base.